A long title, I know, but it pretty much explains the topic of this post.

For some reason I wasn’t shocked at the news that journalists allegedly hacked into vulnerable peoples’ phones. I suppose I assumed that this is what we’ve come to expect from our national media from previous cases of phone hacking that have been reported in the press. This doesn’t mean to say that I find it acceptable. I, too, find it vile and absolutely appalling that this practice can go on, given the already inflated power the media have over the general public.

I was, however, surprised at the sheer level of negative publicity on Twitter and Facebook which led to many individuals and companies boycotting the “best selling” newspaper. And the statement from Rupert Murdoch today, announcing the end of The News of the World after this Sunday’s edition.

Twitter mention of Facebook reaction

But how much of this was down to social media and the viral nature of the boycott messages sent out across the Internet?

Dave Naylor joining boycott of NOTW advertisers

It’s inevitable that companies will have come under pressure to withdraw advertising from the paper in light of the allegations for fear of being associated with and even supporting these practices. I just wonder whether they would have been so quick to withdraw their funding if social media did not exist.

Brands are becoming more and more vulnerable as more people take to Twitter and other social networks to vent their anger, express their distrust and generally portray brands in a bad light. With little censorship, it’s vital that businesses invest in brand reputation management and always remain proactive in maintaining their brand integrity online.

Reaction on News of the World's Facebook page

It’s no longer enough to just have a website or Facebook page and not interact with the public. Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and we need to find ways to embrace the new challenge!

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